Hampton Heath Friends was formed in late 2021 in the wake of covid lock-downs and a re-awakened interest in locality, nature and environment. It has developed into a community of dedicated volunteers and supporters, who bring a wide range of expertise and ideas, and a positivity to our local area.
The 5 hectare site, was given over to public access when leisure facilities (now the David Lloyd Hampton health club) were developed in the 1990s - having previously been part of the adjacent golf course. Before golf, the area was rough fields; and before that, part of the wild, common land of Hounslow Heath.
For around 25 years the site has been under-valued and under-loved. Though a flawed and hidden gem, it's potential as a natural open space steadily increased, as the landscape reverted back towards its origins as a species-rich mosaic of rough, grassy heath, scrub and woodland. Maintaining this wild, natural character and the balance of habitats (for people and wildlife), are core objectives of the group.
2022 - The Big Clean Up
Hampton Heath Friends began 2022 with "The Big Clean Up": A winter project to clear around 25 years of accumulated litter, debris and fly-tipping. By the end of the year we had removed over 250 sacks of rubbish plus larger dumped items and waste, and transformed the site from a "nomansland" to a "wonderland"... but there remains more to do as we work towards a litter-free site; we improve public access, safety and use; we clear paths and widen entrances; and we enhance the habitats for people and wildlife.
2022 - Summer of extremes
The record-breaking heat of the summer of '22 took it's toll on the environment, with the grassland, scrub and even mature trees suffering badly from the drought. Following many years of minimal management, the site was prone to fire - and on the August Bank Holiday, arson left one quarter of the grassland and scrub burnt to the ground.
But from adversity springs biodiversity: Autumn rains brought a rapid natural recovery, and previously unrecorded, rare / threatened (IUCN Red-Listed) plants and fungi are among those emerging from the ashes.
For more on our journey so far, download our 2022 annual summary.
2023 - Bringing new life to Hampton Heath
Early 2023 has seen the second phase of the "Big Clean Up" project: The winter season finds us tackling the more remote parts of the site which we hadn't yet reached.
We are also preparing a habitat management plan and funding bids with the aim of delivering a series of projects to enhance Hampton Heath's natural environment throughout 2023.... from entrance signs (to provide a new, clear, local identity), to new ponds and grassland management, to wildlife surveying and monitoring, to nest-boxes and wildlife refugia, to footpath improvements - 2023 promises to be another exciting and transformational year for Hampton Heath... entirely powered by local grassroots volunteers.
Wildlife Recording: With over 400 different species already catalogued by HHF and our allies, we're adding new depth to the area's Borough's wildlife records, and our habitat restoration programme is addressing the biodiversity crisis head-on. Species recorded or seen on Hampton Heath include London and Richmond Biodiversity Action Plan priority species, such as Hedgehog, Stag Beetle, bats (species yet to be confirmed), Common Lizard and Grass Snake - underlining the site's status as a Site of Interest for Nature Conservation (SINC) of Borough importance. Our records contribute to the Borough's biodiversity database, and the Londonwide "Gigl" database. All our wildlife records are publicly available and can be found on this link to Inaturalist.org.
We welcome all community involvement in our work, and would love to hear from individuals and groups with any shared interests. We will be working with David Lloyd's management team, Borough ecologists and others so Hampton Heath can reach its full, natural potential for the communities of Hampton Hill, Hampton, Hanworth and Fulwell.
If you'd like to help us, or shape the journey, please do get in touch.